Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chia Seeds {Nature's Tiny Powerhouse}

If someone says "Chia seeds" I bet you immediately think of the Ch-ch-ch-chia  pet commercials (at least if you are over the age of 25 you should).  They did a great job of getting that little jingle stuck in our heads over the past 30 years. 

It's time to stop thinking of chia seeds as hair for your pottery pet! Instead, it's time to give chia seeds the love they deserve. They may be a super teeny tiny seed, but they are considered a super food that packs a lot of nutrients in it's tiny package. Chia seeds date back to the Aztecs. Chia seeds are a member of the mint family.

Make sure you never consume chia seeds that are sold with the Chia Pets as they are not food grade seeds. Chia seeds provide calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.

Chia Seeds {Nature's Tiny Powerhouse}

Chia seeds, to me, have no flavor at all, but some say they have a mild, nutty flavor. Chia seeds are great to add to your smoothies. The Vitamix blends them so well you can't even see them in the smoothie. If you do not have a high speed blender you may want to try soaking your seeds first in water to form a gel.
(Smoothie: Add 1-2 tsp for kids, 1-2 Tbps for adults)

Add Chia seeds to soups, salads, dressings, muffins, and much much more. 

So, why should you start consuming chia seeds?  

10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Supports Heart Health
Chia seeds can help reduce blood pressure. The seeds contain one of the highest known plant sources of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). EFAs cannot be synthesized by our bodies however, it is very important that we get enough to support our immune, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems. EFA deficiency is quite common in North America.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Chia seeds slow down the rate at which complex carbohydrates are digested and then assimilated into the body. The soluble fiber helps to stabilize blood glucose levels resulting in steady, sustained energy. In one study on diabetic patients, Dr. Vladamir Vuksan of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, found that blood was thinner and less prone to clotting and blood pressure of participants dropped significantly, after three months of taking Chia seeds daily. 

The word “Chia” comes from the Mayan language and means strength. Chia seeds are a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber. It is said that 1 tablespoon of Chia can sustain a person for 24 hours. Athletes have reported that Chia seeds help them perform at optimal levels for much longer periods of time. 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties 
A number of arthritis sufferers have reported reduced pain and inflammation after a few weeks of taking Chia seeds. The high concentration of omega-3 helps to lubricate joints and keep them supple. Additionally, Omega-3s are converted into prostaglandins which are known to have both pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.

Weight Loss
The essential fatty acids contained in Chia seeds helps to boost metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. The seeds are sometimes added to food to provide bulk and nutrients while adding very few calories. For these reasons, many people have found Chia quite useful in weight loss and weight maintenance.

Detoxification and Elimination
Similar to psyllium, the swelling action of Chia in the body helps to cleanse and soothe the colon, and absorb toxins while lubricating and strengthening peristaltic action.

High Quality Protein
Chia seeds contain about 20% protein, a higher percentage than found in many other grains such as wheat and rice. Chia seeds contain strontium which helps to assimilate protein and produce high energy.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants containing even more antioxidants than fresh blueberries. The high amounts of antioxidants in Chia seeds also keeps the oils from going rancid - contributing to a long shelf life. 

Provides Fiber and Other Nutrients
Besides EFAs, Chia seeds also provide fiber, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. 
2 tablespoons of Chia = 7 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, 5 grams omega-3

Brain Power
EFAs are known to make cell membranes more flexible and efficient making nutrients more readily available and nerve transmission more efficient. This helps to improve brain function (including memory and concentration).

But wait, there's even more you need 
to know about chia seeds...

Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet. These are great to incorporate into a gluten-free diet.

Egg Replacer
The outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids to form a gel. This can used in place of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods. To make the egg replacement, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.

Though Chia seeds are considered a healthy food, take caution when eating them. Some people experience an allergic reaction to Chia seeds, especially if they're already allergic to sesame or mustard seeds. Chia seeds can also interfere with high blood pressure medication and blood thinners. There has not been enough research to determine if ingesting Chia seeds for more than 12 weeks is safe. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid eating chia seeds simply because no one knows how Chia seeds affect unborn or newborn babies. Chia seeds consists of a high amount of alpha linolenic acid. Some studies show a link between high amounts of this acid and prostate cancer, so don't eat Chia seeds if you suffer from prostate cancer or are at a high risk for the disease.

I purchase a 32 ounce bag of chia seeds at Costco. I will get back to you on the price of the bag.

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